For many years, treatment programs for drug dependency focused almost exclusively on adults. Very few programs even allowed people under the age of 18 to participate, and even fewer were focused specifically on adolescent drug abuse.
Today, many treatment facilities across the country have programs explicitly for teen drug abuse. Treatment programs for teens can vary significantly in philosophy, cost, time-investment and level of family involvement.
About Teen Addiction
Many teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol. For some of these teens, their experimentation turns into an addiction. The risk factors that make a teen more likely to develop an addiction include:
- Choosing friends who use drugs, particularly if the drugs they’re using are highly addictive
- Experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety
- Having a family history of alcohol or drug abuse
- Lacking close family ties or adequate parental supervision.
The earlier teen drug use begins, the more likely it is to progress into an addiction. According to ChooseHelp.com (2008), as many as 14 percent of teens that enter a drug treatment program began using drugs or alcohol before they turned 13.
Types of Drug Abuse Treatment Available for Teens
Many different treatment programs for teen drug abuse are available. The two principle kinds of treatment programs are outpatient programs and inpatient programs (also called “residential programs”).
- In an outpatient program, the teen continues to live at home but comes into the treatment facility frequently for scheduled appointments and activities. Individual counseling, group counseling with other teen addicts and family counseling are all part of the treatment plan. These programs last several weeks or months and are typically less expensive than an inpatient program. However, they may not provide adequate supervision and intervention for severely addicted teens.
- Teens who enter an inpatient drug program live at the treatment facility for several weeks or months. Like an outpatient program, inpatient treatment includes individual, family and group counseling activities, but the level of intervention is much higher than with an outpatient program. Teens in an outpatient program continue to live at home and attend the same school they were in prior to treatment. For some teen addicts, being away from their usual school and home environments helps them break their old habits of drug use and provides a safe drug-free environment. Inpatient programs also provide much greater supervision, which is beneficial for those teens who may need help staying away from drugs.
In addition to living arrangements, treatment programs for teen drug abusers can also vary in their approach to recovery. Some programs focus on religious motivations for staying off drugs. Other programs emphasize academic achievement and college preparation. Some programs even incorporate wilderness activities, such as hiking and camping. Having a choice in treatment philosophies allows families to find a program that fits with their teenager’s sensibilities.
ChooseHelp.com. (2008). Fast facts on teens in drug or alcohol treatment. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.choosehelp.com/teenagers/fast-facts-on-teens-in-drug-or-alcohol-treatment
Drug Rehabs. (n.d.). Adolescent substance abuse. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.drug-rehabs.com/adolescent-substance-abuse.htm
Falco, M. (n.d.). Drug treatment for adolescents. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.hbo.com/addiction/treatment/35_treatment_for_adolescents.html
Hannay, J. (2007). Help for teen drug abusers – and their parents. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.rwjf.org/reports/grr/039051.htm
RAND Corporation. (2007). Evaluating substance abuse treatment programs for adolescent probationers. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.drug-rehab-program.org/teens.php
SoberRecovery LLC. (n.d.). Adolescent drug rehab, alcoholism and mental health help. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.soberrecovery.com/links/adolescenttreatment.html